New coffee house opens

Yampa couple combines love of coffee and art at Leisure Mountain Studio

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— To Debbie and J-Jay Johnson, there is nothing better than a good cup of coffee, especially when it's from roasting your own coffee beans.

"Roasting is like wine making. You have to have a particular taste for the flavors of coffee beans and have control of what you're doing to roast," J-Jay Johnson said.

The Johnsons, who have lived in Yampa off-and-on since 1994, recently opened Leisure Mountain Studio Gallery Coffee with the intention of providing their favorite town with their favorite beverage.

"This is our dream come true," Debbie Johnson said. "Coffee and art. This is our passion."

The Johnsons' shop, which provides coffee, specialty drinks, pastries and homemade breakfast burritos, also has wall-to-wall art displays of J-Jay's black and white porcelain creations and a space for local artists to display art.

"Every month we have a new artist bring their art in for our patrons to enjoy while they drink their coffee and socialize," Debbie Johnson said.

The Johnsons opened a Leisure Mountain Studio Gallery Coffee in Dolores, but closed the coffee shop and gallery after they decided to move back to Yampa.

After overhearing someone talk about renting a building on Moffat Avenue, the Johnsons decided to open their coffee shop in Yampa.

"It was meant to be," Debbie Johnson said. "It couldn't have happened more perfectly."

After moving into the old feed store that once occupied the building, J-Jay Johnson put in countless hours restoring the building, adding new floors, walls and a space for Molly, their coffee roaster.

"Molly came to us from Mocha Molly's in (Steamboat Springs). It was their coffee roaster, but it was sold after the store closed, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time," J-Jay Johnson said.

J-Jay Johnson said he hopes to refinish the roaster because she was "abused" and then hopes to make the coffee roasting experience available to the public.

"When we get her up and running, we're going to be able to not only roast our own organic green (coffee) beans, but we'll be selling it in bulk and by the cup," he said.

Because the Johnsons are coffee aficionados, they have already planned their coffee bean menu.

"Columbian doesn't do a lot for us anymore. We're looking to bring in more exotic coffees from places like Costa Rica and Sumatra," Debbie Johnson said. "There is not another natural high in the world like roasting coffee."

Yampa artist Sarah Glass is the featured artist in October. An artist reception is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 for residents interested in meeting Glass or having a cup of joe. Karen Tussey will be featured in November, and December will feature a variety of art.

"It's becoming a very comfortable place for people to come sit at the table and drink coffee. We love having our locals come in to just hang out," Debbie Johnson said.

Leisure Mountain Studio Gallery Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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